Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
To order your hard copy of Prologue please go here
1. SAINT ANDREW, ARCHBISHOP OF CRETE
Andrew was born in Damascus of Christian parents. He was a mute from birth until the age of seven. When his parents brought him to church and he received Holy Communion, he began to speak. So great is the power of the Divine and Holy Communion. At age fourteen, Andrew went to Jerusalem and was tonsured in the Lavra of St. Sabas the Sanctified. By virtue of his understanding and asceticism, he surpassed many of the older monks and was an example to them. After a while, the patriarch took him as his personal secretary. When the Monothelite heresy began to rage the heresy which taught that the Lord Jesus did not possess a human will but only a divine will the Sixth Ecumenical Council convened in Constantinople in the year 681 A.D. during the reign of Constantine IV [Bearded One]. Theodore, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, was unable to attend the council but sent Andrew as his representative who, at that time, was an Archdeacon. At the council, Andrew displayed his wonderful gift of oratory, his zeal for the Faith and rare prudence. Having assisted in strengthening the Orthodox Faith, Andrew returned to his duties in Jerusalem. Later, he was elected and installed as the Archbishop of the Island of Crete. As an archbishop, he was greatly loved by the people. Andrew was very zealous for Orthodoxy and vehemently eradicated all heresies. Through his prayers he worked miracles. By his prayers, he drove the Saracens from the Island of Crete. Andrew wrote many books of instruction, hymns and canons of which the most renown is the Great Canon to the Birth-giver of God read on Thursday of the Fifth Sunday of the Great Lenten Season. His outward appearance was such that "seeing his face and hearing his words flowing like honey, everyone found pleasure and amended their ways." On one occasion, returning from Constantinople, Andrew foretold his death before he arrived in Crete. And so it happened. When the boat in which he traveled sailed near the island of Mitylene, this beacon of the Church ended his earthly life and with his soul, took up habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in the year 721 A.D.
2. SAINT MARTHA
Martha was the mother of St. Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain (May 24). Dedicated with all her soul to the Faith, she did not think of marriage. When her parents betrothed her to a young man, Martha thought of leaving the home of her parents and to withdrew from the world. But, St. John the Baptist appeared to Martha and counseled her to fulfill the will of her parents and to enter into marriage, which she did. From this marital union, the glorious saint, Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain was born. She had the regular habit of rising at midnight for prayer. With great charity, she helped the needy and misfortunate, visited the poor, the orphaned and attended the sick. A year before her death she saw many angels with candles in their hands and, from them, learned the time of her death. Learning of this, Martha with even greater zeal dedicated herself to prayer and good works. She died peacefully in the year 551 A.D. and was buried in the proximity of her son, Simeon the Stylite. After her death, she appeared many times for the purpose of instructing mankind and for the sake of healing the sick. Recorded as her most significant appearance was the one to the abbot of Simeon's monastery. Following the burial of St. Martha, the abbot placed a votive candle on her grave with the understanding that it should never be extinguished. Then the abbot became ill and the saintly Martha appeared to him and said: "Why do you not burn a votive candle on my grave? Know that I am not in need of the light from your candle since I have been made worthy before God, the Eternal Heavenly Light, but it is needed for you. So when you burn a light on my grave, you entreat me to pray to the Lord for you." It is obvious from this that the goal of our veneration for the saints is to entreat them as those worthier than us to pray to God for us and for our salvation.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
In His Divine Providence, miraculous is the Lord,
To Andrew, the mute, He gave a clear voice
And the mute, His audible trumpet made
As one time Saul (Paul), the pillar of the Church.
In vain from marriage did holy Martha shun
To the will of God must bow down,
To marriage the Providence of God led Martha
That for God and the world, of a saint to give birth
Whoever himself gives to God, himself he gave to the Best,
And his will, he overcame by God's will
My child, without the Lord, do not plan anything,
That your plans without fruit do not be.
Of life, all the threads and all your desires
In the hands of the Creator Almighty stand.
His are the fields; His are the slopes,
His are the basic elements, the foundations and the threads.
His is the soul; His is the body,
And of everything and its attire, the spirit
In his field with His tools
Whose shall we fulfill, except His will.
If your entire life passed smoothly and without worry, then weep for yourself. For the Gospel and the experience of the people, with one accord assert that no one has, without great suffering and pain, left behind any great and beneficial work on earth or was glorified in the heavens. If, however, your earthly sojourn is completely adorned with sweat and tears to attain justice and truth, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for truly great is your reward in the heavens. Do not ever succumb to the insane thought that God has abandoned you. God knows exactly how much one can endure and, according to that, measures the sufferings and pains of everyone. St. Nil Sorsky says: "When even men know how much weight a horse, or a donkey or a camel can carry and, according to that they are loading them according to their strength; when a potter knows how long to leave the clay in the kiln for it to be neither shattered nor over-baked, how could God not know how much temptation a soul can bear to make it ready and fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven?"
To contemplate all the miracles which the Lord performed at the hands of Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: "And Aaron and Moses went in unto Pharaoh and they did as the Lord had commanded" (Exodus 7:10):
1. How great and awesome were those miracles;
2. How the heart of pharaoh remained obstinate before all the miracles of God;
3. How even my heart is hard before the countless miracles of God in my heart, in my life and around me and how I need to repent before the end befalls me and eternal punishment reaches me.
About the salvation of a soul as the end of faith
"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:9).
Brethren, what is the end of faith? The salvation of a soul. What is the goal of faith? The salvation of a soul. What is the fruit of faith? The salvation of a soul. We do not adhere to faith, therefore, for the sake of faith but rather for the salvation of our souls. No one travels for the sake of the road but because of someone or something that awaits him at the end of the road. No one throws a rope into the water in which someone is drowning for the sake of the rope but for the sake of the one drowning. God gave faith to us as a road, the end of which the travelers will receive salvation of their souls. And, as a rope, God extended faith to us who are drowning in the dark waters of sin, ignorance and vice that we, through the help of faith, save our lives.
That is the purpose of faith. Whoever knows the price of a human soul must admit that there is nothing in this world more necessary or more beneficial than faith. A merchant who carries precious stones in an earthen vessel carefully and cautiously protects the vessel, hides it and keeps vigil over it. Is it because of the vessel that the merchant exerts such effort and concern? Not because of the vessel, but because of the precious stones which are in the vessel. Our entire earthly life is like an earthen vessel in which a priceless treasure is hidden. That priceless treasure is our soul. A vessel is cheap but a treasure is valuable. First, one must have faith in the value of a human soul and second, in the future glow and life of the soul in the Kingdom of God; third, in the Living God Who waits for the return of a soul which He Himself gave us and fourth, in the possibility that a soul could be lost in this world. Whosoever has faith in these four things will know how to protect his soul and will further know that the salvation of a soul is the end of his road, the goal of his faith, the fruit of his life, the purpose of his existence on earth and the justification of his sufferings.
We believe for the sake of the salvation of our soul. Whoever has a true faith, must also know that faith is for the sake of the salvation of souls. He who thinks that his faith serves another purpose other than salvation does not have a true faith nor does he know the value of his soul.
O All-good Lord Jesus, You have given us a shining and victorious faith, strengthen and maintain that faith in us that we may stand unashamed before Your judgment with our pure and shining souls.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
Introduction | Home | Contact Us|
© Copyright, Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese of Western America